Vaginitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment - GO.CARE Blog

Vaginitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Author: Chí Hùng
Review Date: August 6, 2018 | Last Modified: September 26, 2019
Vaginitis: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Know the basics

1. What is vaginitis?

Vaginitis is a condition that occurs when you have an inflammation of the vagina that can result in discharge, itching and pain. The cause is usually a change in the normal balance of vaginal bacteria or an infection. Furthermore, reduced estrogen levels after menopause and some skin disorders can also cause this health condition.

The most common types of vaginitis are:

  • Bacterial vaginosis. Which results from a change of the normal bacteria found in your vagina to overgrowth of other organisms
  • Yeast infections. Which are usually caused by a naturally occurring fungus called Candida albicans.
  • Trichomoniasis. Which is caused by a parasite and is commonly transmitted by sexual intercourse.

This health condition is very common. Most women will have some kind of vaginitis at least once in their lives. However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors.

Moreover, treatment depends on the type of vaginitis you have.

2. Symptoms

Generally, some common signs and symptoms of vaginitis may include:

  • Change in color, odor or amount of discharge from your vagina
  • Vaginal itching or irritation
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Painful urination
  • Light vaginal bleeding or spotting

If you have vaginal discharge, which many women don’t, the characteristics of the discharge might help you detect the type of vaginitis you have. Examples include:

Bacterial vaginosis

You might develop a grayish-white, foul-smelling discharge. The odor, often described as a fishy odor, might be more obvious after sexual intercourse.

Yeast infection

The main symptom is itching, but you might have a white, thick discharge that resembles cottage cheese.


An infection called trichomoniasis can cause a greenish-yellow, sometimes frothy discharge.  

Diagnosis & Treatments

1. How is vaginitis diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you experience this health condition, he/she will perform a vaginal exam to determine this condition. Then, your doctor may recommend you some tests such as:

  • Collect a sample for lab testing: Your doctor might collect a sample of cervical or vaginal discharge for lab testing to confirm what kind of vaginitis you have.
  • Perform pH testing: Your doctor might test your vaginal pH by applying a pH test stick or pH paper to the wall of your vagina. An elevated pH can indicate either bacteria vaginosis or trichomoniasis. However, pH testing alone is not a reliable diagnostic test.

2. How is vaginitis treated?

After your doctor diagnoses vaginitis, he/she may recommend you some treatment options and depending on the causes of vaginitis, the treatment will be determined:

♦ Bacterial vaginosis

For this type of vaginitis, your doctor may prescribe metronidazole. You’ll need to get tested and be given a prescription for these medications.

♦ Yeast infections

Yeast infections usually are treated with an over-the-counter antifungal cream or suppository, such as miconazole (Monistat 1), clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), butoconazole (Femstat 3) or tioconazole (Vagistat-1).

♦ Trichomoniasis

Your doctor may prescribe metronidazole (Flagyl) or tinidazole (Tindamax) tablets.

♦ Noninfectious vaginitis

To treat this type of vaginitis, you need to pinpoint the source of the irritation and avoid it. Possible sources include new soap, laundry detergent, sanitary napkins or tampons.

More informations

1. Causes

Some common possible causes of vaginitis include:

♦ Bacterial vaginosis

This most common cause of vaginitis results from a change of the normal bacteria found in your vagina, to overgrowth of one of several other organisms.

This type of vaginitis seems to be linked to sexual intercourse, especially if you have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner, but it also occurs in women who aren’t sexually active.

♦ Yeast infections

Generally, these occur when there’s an overgrowth of a fungal organism in your vagina. C. albicans also causes infections in other moist areas of your body, such as in your mouth (thrush), skin folds and nail beds.

♦ Trichomoniasis

This common sexually transmitted infection is due to a microscopic, one-celled parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. This organism spreads during sexual intercourse with someone who has the infection.

♦ Noninfectious vaginitis

Vaginal sprays, douches, perfumed soaps, scented detergents and spermicidal products may cause an allergic reaction or irritate vulvar and vaginal tissues. Foreign objects, such as tissue paper or forgotten tampons, in the vagina can also irritate vaginal tissues.

2. Risk factors

Generally, you may have higher risks for this condition if you are experiencing these following conditions:

  • Hormonal changes, such as those associated with pregnancy, birth control pills or menopause
  • Sexual activity
  • Having a sexually transmitted infection
  • Medications, such as antibiotics and steroids
  • Use of spermicides for birth control
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Use of hygiene products such as bubble bath, vaginal spray or vaginal deodorant
  • Douching
  • Wearing damp or tight-fitting clothing
  • Using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control

Need further information? Contact GO.CARE manage team to get more details from expert doctors and medical specialists.

GO.CARE does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.